My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Ad Scandal: Agency Forces Community Newspapers To Write Six Or More Articles About The 2010 Census

H/t to Jim Edwards, the former managing editor of AdWeek, for making us aware of the following (full article HERE):

Ad agencies for the U.S. Census Bureau appear to have learned nothing from a decade-old White House scandal — because they’re busy repeating history.

Back in 2000, the White House was discovered trading ad buys with TV networks in return for positive spin in its war on drugs. That covert operation, which exposed millions to anti-drug propaganda masquerading as drama and sitcoms, ended in disgrace and the White House promised to cancel the program.

Ten years later, that promise is long forgotten. Globalhue, the ad agency that controls much of the government’s ad money targeting minorities for Census 2010, sent a letter to the National Newspaper Association demanding that publishers run six articles about the census or else the government would cancel its ads. (The NNPA represents community newspapers.)

While there was no explicit requirement of positive coverage demanded by Globalhue, the implication is clear: How long do you think the agency would continue placing ads in any newspaper that was digging dirt against the national headcount?

According to congressional hearings in February and March, the letter from Globalhue CEO Don Coleman said:

“In lieu of free ad space, all papers must agree to running six articles (preferably during hiatus weeks) about the Census 2010 as well as two editorials. If paper does not agree to the added value stipulations, buy will be canceled immediately.”

Amazingly, the arrangement proposed in the letter — that ad buys be contingent upon articles written by the papers themselves — is exactly the same as the one conducted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy during its disgraced ads-for-coverage scheme.

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7 Responses to “Ad Scandal: Agency Forces Community Newspapers To Write Six Or More Articles About The 2010 Census”

  1. My Two Census » Blog Archive » MyTwoCensus Editorial: If scandal proves true, the Census Bureau’s violation of the First Amendment is inexcusable! Says:

    [...] it was alleged that the Census Bureau’s advertising partner, GlobalHue, directed newspapers across the country to face a loss of Census Bureau advertising dollars if they didn’t write six positive [...]

  2. Stephen Buckner (Census Bureau) Says:

    Stephen, I submitted this comment on Friday to you in hopes of clarifing a couple of things about your post:

    The National Newspapers Publishers Association (NNPA) was actually hired by DraftFCB and the Census Bureau last year to handle Black/African American newspaper media buys. The request for their members to provide the Census Bureau with added value originated with NNPA, which was paid $195,000 as one of the two contracted media buyers for the Black audience. In fact,all of the more than 3,800 media outlets selected in the 2010 Census advertising buy were asked to provide added value, which is a standard industry practice. Each media buyer made it clear that this was voluntary and that each media outlet would get credit for any previous coverage they may have run prior to the buy.

    NNPA newspapers are receiving about 11 percent of the total ad dollars for the Black audience despite media consumption research showing that they only spend 6 percent of the their time reading newspapers. About 80 percent of the media budget is being targeted among popular Black television and radio programming.

    Mindful of taxpayers dollars, the Census Bureau leveraged it’s $133 million advertising campaign to secure nearly $30 million in free advertising — all of which is an attempt to increase public awareness and motivate every household to mail back their 2010 Census forms. In fact, if everyone mailed back their form, taxpayers could reduce the cost of the census by $1.5 billion.

  3. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    Stephen – Your response is set to post on Monday AM (when more people read the site so it will have a greater effect) – SRM

  4. My Two Census » Blog Archive » Official Census Bureau Response To Charges That Ad Agency Traded Ads For 2010 Census Coverage Says:

    [...] response to last Friday’s allegations of improprieties and scandal involving ad agency GlobalHue’s dealings with newspapers, Census Bureau PR man Stephen Buckner provided the following response: The National Newspapers [...]

  5. TurtleShroom Says:

    You foolish fearmongerer!


    “The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.”

  6. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    Shroom, learn to read. Thanks! SRM

  7. My Two Census » Blog Archive » Official response from GlobalHue… Says:

    [...] the official response from GlobalHue, answering allegations that were made last week: March 15, [...]